Retailers are rewarded when shoppers tell others about their experience. "Peoples' expectations are pretty high. It's easy to [fall short of those expectations], and hard to eclipse [bad experiences, even] with something that's over-the-top," says Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch. "Bitching and moaning is more common than praise."

Wharton's Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative teamed with Verde and the Retail Council of Canada to discover how retailers can create an extraordinary experience for shoppers. In an online survey, 1,006 shoppers in the United States and Canada were asked: "Can you think of a shopping experience that you had in the past six months or so that was especially great, in that the experience created delight and surprise for you in any way?"

A report based on the research, titled "Discovering 'WOW' - A Study of Great Retail Shopping Experiences in North America,"points to five major areas that contribute to a great shopping experience.

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